In this day and age of an ever increasing Orwellian police state, people ought to know that they can fight back. Legally, that is. When a police officer or government employee violates your rights under color of law, you should file an official complaint. The word 'official' is key here. If you do not file an actual official written complaint, then there is no record of it. Police will oftentimes try to intimidate complaintants and persuade people not to file an official complaint. You must assert your rights and persist in filing an official written complaints.In many cities, such as when I filed an official written complaint against a police detective a few years ago, the complaint will stay on the thug's record for a minimum of five years. Regardless of the outcome of the complaint, it will still stay on their record, but only if it's an official complaint. My complaint was about my God given right to film police officers in a public place without interference or attempted intimidation on the part of police. When Internal Affairs contacted me to see if I would come down to talk with them at police headquarters, I agreed. Since the interview was audio and video recorded by the department, I brought my own personal videorecorder too, set it up on a chair, and recorded the whole thing. I did not 'ask permission' to do this, because after all- the case itself was about my right to film. If they wanted to talk to me and record it, I was going to record them. Which is precisely what I did. I then posted it on youtube in 5 10-minute segments, and it can be viewed here. If police had dared to refuse to allow me to record a meeting which they themselves admitted to recording, I would not have spoken to them. In the interview, both investigators concede that it is my right to film police. The Police chief later sent me a letter thanking me for bringing up 'training issues'.
In general, merely calling up the police department to gripe about your mistreatment does not suffice as an official complaint. In fact, doing so may probably garner nothing more than additional threats, smug replies, and high-fives among officers in the precinct. (such as the time when police in Miami shot a middle aged woman, an anti-war protestor in the head and then laughed about it later).
I will briefly profile three cases in which the injured party asserted their rights, filed a complaint and sued the law enforcement agency who acted in a tyrannical manner.
The first is the case of liberty activist Antonio Musumeci from New Jersey. Ironically, Musumeci was filming the arrest of another freedom activist when he himself got arrested. Julian Heicklen is an activist who was passing out information from the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA.org) in front of a federal courthouse. Law enforcement apparently doesn't like the 1st Amendment, so they have repeatedly harassed and arrested Heicklen. Musumeci's video footage of that day can be found on his blog here. Musumeci, who was pictured wearing a 'Ron paul Revolution' T-shirt in the newspaper, sued the Department of Homeland Security over the arrest, and was vindicated. The Department settled the case, paid Musumeci damages, and conceded the public's right to film outside of federal buildings. it made international news coverage. Score one for the good guys.
The secon case is that of Lakeway, Texas resident Lance Mitchell. Mitchell runs the website SpeedTrapAhead.org and has warned his fellow motorists for several years of 'speed traps' in his local area. (A speed trap is basically where a cop hides in the bushes or some out-of sight area for the primary purpose of revenue generation). Mitchell was recently featured in the Austin American-Statesman which covered his legal victory. [See In Lakeway, a crusade against speed traps- Resident who displays warnings gets publicity, jail time - and vindication].
According to news accounts, police officer James Debrow developed some sort of vendetta against Lance Mitchell, who would stand out on the street wearing a t-shirt warning approaching motorists of speed traps. The Statesman reported that a code enforcement officer testified in court that Debrow said "this is getting personal" and directed him to "come up with some violations against Mitchell". Police Officer Hector Almaguer also testified regarding Debrow's orders, adding that Debrow "told him the local judge had issued a standing order to have Mitchell arrested." The municipal judge, Kevin Madison insisted "That is absolutely not true", adding "Everyone just kind of fell back in his chair," upon hearing the testimony. The Statesman also reported that Debrow had just joined the police department in 2008, after working for 25 years at the Texas Department of Public Safety. They report that he left the Lakewood Police Department in January has since gone to work as "the acting captain for the Houston office of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission." The Texas ABC certainly has some 'splainin to do regarding their willful hiring of a man who, according to testimony, lies and abuses his authority under color of law. Not surprisingly, James Debrow 'did not respond to messages' on the matter.
Mitchell, who had been arrested and charged with num erous bogus violations, had all the charges dismissed in court. he later sued the city and they settled the case. Although the settlement amount was 'undisclosed', Mitchell told the Statesman that "I don't have to worry about working for four or five months." On his personal website, Mitchell clarified "It�s been nearly two years since I�ve even been out on the roads wearing my shirt. And, I haven�t even been updating my website or writing blog entries during that time due to the civil lawsuit. I DON�T just sit around doing this instead of looking for a job. In fact, the whole sign holding/t-shirt wearing thing I did in the past, was WHILE I was working nights, often 50-60 hours a week!!"
The third example is the case of Oregon man Robert Ekas. He was arrested for flipping off cops and then sued for civil rights damages, easily collecting money. Once again, the government thugs settled the case after grossly abusing their police power. Ekas represented himself. I spent some time reading his actual lawsuit,a nd it is great. It should serve as a primer for all freedom advocates. You can read it here. Here are some brief excerpts from the lawsuit:
"17. Plaintiff promptly pulled off the road and exited the vehicle and stated to Wold, "Your traffic stop is illegal and you will answer for it. I have called 911 and your supervisor will be on scene shortly." Wold then placed his hand on his firearm, unsnapped the holster catc~ and ordered the Plaintiff back into his vehicle. 18. The Plaintiff re-entered his vehicle and again called 911 to report the erratic and threatening behavior of Wold and to request that the supervisor be dispatched without delay.
27. As a direct and proximate result of Wold's actions, Plaintiff suffered the following injuries and damages: a. Violation of rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, to be free from criminal prosecution or to be retaliated against in any way for engaging in constitutionally protected speech; b. Violation ofhis rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure ofhis person; c. Violation ofhis rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, to be free from malicious prosecution; d. Loss of his physical liberty; and e. Physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, humiliation, and distress."
Ekas reportedly settled for $4000, but another man from Pittsburgh sued after police arrested him for flipping them off and scored $50,000. That man was representd by the ACLU, and CBS News reported that the man, David Hackbart, "will only net $10,000 after $40,000 in attorney's fees."
I hope the overview of these three cases has given readers an idea of how they can assert their rights in a way which affects everyone's liberty in a positive way.Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured on LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, Rense, National Motorists Association, and many others.